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Balancing workload and improving healthcare

Written by on July 10, 2024

Windhoek Central Hospital nurse matron Claudia Kambonde joined the health profession as a student nurse in 1993 and has never looked back.

Kambonde’s work entails coordinating the work of about 700 nurses across several operational units at the hospital.

On one of these challenging days, Kambonde has to make tough decisions. It is her job to work with the managers of the operational units to shift nurses around to cover each unit and if necessary, call in off-duty nurses to provide support.

Her job requires being a level-headed leader who can successfully negotiate with managers to convince them to share their human resources for patients across the hospital.

“It is not a simple numbers game with an easy nurse-to-patient ratio,” she said.

Therefore, delays and distractions in the administration of healthcare can be detrimental, Kambonde said.

It is necessary to protect nurses from overload that can impact the quality of care they provide, Kambonde added.

Kambonde recently participated in a series of workshops by the Ministry of Health and Social Services designed to determine the standard tasks required for all types of patient care and the staff time required to perform the tasks.

The workshops, supported by the United States (US) government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), saw participants analyse the workloads of medical officers, nurses, radiographers, psychologists and other cadres of public health workers.

During a visit to the Windhoek Central hospital, US embassy spokesperson Tiffany Miller described Kambonde as a soft-spoken, resilient woman with a gentle smile, and a big job.

Miller said the analyses conducted will assist the Namibian government to appropriately allocate resources to meet the health needs of the population and achieve universal healthcare coverage – a situation in which everyone has access to basic, affordable healthcare as prioritised by the government.

Kambonde said the workload analysis will make her work easier.

It helps you make use of your statistics to determine your staffing needs. The detailed results will impact health facilities across the country. It will also provide managers at hospitals and the health ministry with the data it requires to recruit and deploy medical staff.

“The workload analysis will reduce the amount of time I spend negotiating with operation unit leads and nurses about staff allocations,” she said.

Nurses work best when there are no distractions, when they are not overworked or overwhelmed. That’s when they can deliver quality healthcare efficiently and effectively, she added.

“This means patients have shorter wait times, more positive experiences in the hospital, and leave with better health outcomes,” said Kambonde.

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